Can a personal essay be written by two people? If it’s never been done before, then our emerging voices will attempt it, in this blog, before your very eyes.
We are Melissa Ruby and Mike Cook, and (we believe) we were the youngest writers at the 2008 Key West Literary Seminar. Not that being the youngest guarantees that we have new voices or even distinct and worthy voices, but to be surrounded by writers so exceptional is to hope they find our voices new, distinct, and worthy.
Carolyn Mackler’s editor said that to find new American voices one has to look no further than Myspace, which, coincidentally, is why we’re here.
As reluctant as we are to admit we met on Myspace, we’re equally grateful that we did, because there was and is no other forum where we could have found that familiarity in such a chaotic ensemble of new voices. That recognition inspired a camaraderie.
We met on a Myspace group called the Young Readers’ and Writers’ Network. A worthwhile Myspace group is an anomaly (can you even use “worthwhile” and “Myspace” in the same sentence?) but sometimes life allows for extraordinary fruit to come from really stupid shit. We heard our own voices reflected from the other coast in each others’ work.
How do you explain that another writer’s words pump the blood through your veins? How do you find other voices that do the same? A bar patron told one of us about Key West and the upcoming seminar on new voices. We’ll have to thank her, but mostly we have to thank Miles and the board, because without financial aid we would not be here.
We’re here to find solidarity in a world that’s really fucking lonely. We’re here because ultimately we desire to be those new American voices. Because we can’t imagine being anything else.
The new voices we heard in the seminar have inspired us to refine our own. Constant inspiration is vital. Unlike the others in the Keys, we were surrounded by writers who weren’t here on a vacation. We’ve had a lot of fun in Key West, but we didn’t come for the mojitos either. We’re not doing this for kicks; we’re doing this to breathe.
Mike and Melissa
Read more at: Literature Is Not Dead